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Southern Colorado Big-Game Outfitter Charged with Illegal Hunting

Travis Smola

Complaints of threats to hunters and other illegal activities by Colorado outfitter led to a year-long observation by Colorado Wildlife officials.

After complaints of illegal activities, a Colorado outfitter is being hit with multiple charges including illegal hunting and threats allegedly made to his clients.

James Hirschboeck, 53, was under investigation by Colorado Parks and Wildlife for more than a year after hunters complained of fraud, according to Reuters. Charges include providing unregistered outfitting services for big game, providing an illegal hunt for big game for profit, menacing with a deadly weapon, hunting on private property without permission and unlawful taking and possession of a bull elk.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Hirschboeck’s Company, Colorado Elk Adventures was unlicensed and charged up to $3,000 for hunts. Officials were tipped off to the illegal activity when out-of-state hunters and neighboring landowners complained.

Wildlife officials went undercover as hunters paying for guide services in order to further investigate the claims. They found Hirschboeck was allegedly also attempting to bait animals with alfalfa strewn about the property.

Hunters present during the investigator’s undercover work were also upset according to the case’s lead investigator, Bob Holder.

“It was obvious that many of the hunters were not happy with the services Hirschboeck provided as they were not as described in advertisements or conversations with Mr. Hirschboeck,” Holder said in a press release. “These sportsmen and women complained to me or took other avenues to vent their frustrations. Those other options included contact with legal counsel.

“At least 10 hunters left early, and only two received refunds on their hunts, to my knowledge,” Holder said.

Another hunter divulged to investigators how a bull elk was killed on private property and dragged to land Hirschboeck leased. Investigators also witnessed him allegedly threaten another hunter with hammers and a mace when the hunter attempted to confront Hirschboeck about hunting private land.

Reuters reports this is not Hirschboeck’s first run-in with the law on wildlife crimes. They found he had been previously charged with luring wildlife in Wisconsin.

The CPW press release did not state in detail what penalties Hirschboeck might be facing beyond “thousands of dollars in fines or possible jail time.”

CPW is saying Hirschboeck is not typical of Colorado sportsmen and women.

“Hunting in Colorado has esteemed tradition; it’s ethical and it’s big business,” CPW manager Dan Prenzlow said in the release. “Most of our hunters do it because they have a great appreciation for the outdoors and our wildlife.”

Holder seems to agree.

“The vast majority of hunters and legal outfitters are excellent stewards of our state’s natural resources,” Holder said in the statement. “Cases like these rob every one of those resources and CPW will not tolerate anyone who takes advantage  of our hunters and fisherman or those who disrespect our wildlife.”

Hirschboeck is due back in district court next month after being arraigned Friday in Las Animas County.

NEXT: Follow Yellowstone Wolves on an Intense Winter Hunt for Elk

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Southern Colorado Big-Game Outfitter Charged with Illegal Hunting